One dead as fire ravages huts in Pattinappakkam fishing hamlet
By Janane Venkatraman / ENS - CHENNAI
03rd September 2012 08:30 AM
A fire on Sunday morning gutted a crowded tenement in the city and wiped out at least 65 huts, killing one person.
Following fires in slums in Nungambakkam, Ashok Nagar and Periamet, this time the inferno ravaged a fishing settlement in Pattinappakkam, just shy of the Marina coastline.
When fire service personnel were alerted at 10.35 am, more than 44 firemen arrived and began fighting the flames. Five fire engines rushed to the scene from Mylapore, Egmore, Teynampet, Triplicane and High Court Esplanade and, along with five metro water vehicles, struggled to douse the flames.
After almost an hour, all the families were evacuated and the fire was contained. Later, rescue personnel found the body of Kumar (28), a fisherman, who had died of asphyxiation inside his hut. Firemen said that they found him clutching his phone, even in death.
The fishermen in Srinivasapuram rued the fact that they lost their homes again — once to the tsunami and now to the fire.
“Years of savings have been destroyed. Everything that was kept in the house has been burnt to ashes. We have just the clothes on ourselves,” lamented the residents. Their main concern, however, was the children.
“All their books, certificates, uniforms, everything went up in flames. We don’t know how we are going to send them to school tomorrow,” said one woman.
Ironically, most of them said they did not want money.
“We can earn the money and buy back our things. But where will be go if we do not have a roof over our heads?” asked Jayaseeli.
This tsunami survivor had already lost her home twice.
“We don’t want their tokens. If the government can just build us a house, we will be satisfied,” she said.
Balaji, an auto driver, was visibly shaken. He lost his driving license, ration card, certificates and cash.
“We were at the temple when the fire happened. There was nothing anyone could do,” he said. His family of five would be spending the night on the beach. That was what most of them would be doing.
Their afternoon lunch was sponsored by their neighbours and they hadn’t looked beyond the night. Police officials were investigating the cause of the fire.
Meanwhile, initial reports suggested that the incident might have been a deliberate act of arson.
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